Not even marching band safe in potential SC State budget cuts
By Jody Barr
South Carolina State University is scrambling to make serious cuts to its budget such as sports, majors, and teachers.
The cuts come at a major turning point in the university's history as the Board of Trustees searches for a new interim president.
For now, the university is going to a 4-day work week and turning the air conditioning off in most of the buildings on campus in an effort to close off a $5.3 million deficit
"I would ask that you adopt the philosophy of the man who jumped off the Empire State Building," Dr. Tamara Hughes said, addressing the Board. "As he was descending and he got to the first floor, he looked and said, 'I still have a chance." For some, the university's financial future is that bleak. The Board has a little more than a month to figure out how to cut the budget and it won't come from raising tuition. The Board disagreed with that option to that from the start.
Other ideas include possible cuts to majors, non-revenue sports, administration, imposing furloughs and even the marching band -- one of SC State's largest attractions.
"Do we need 400,500 people in the band?" asked Board Chairman John Corbitt. "That band is great. I love it. It's expensive." The Board asked their financial advisors exactly how much money the university currently had in the bank. No one could answer that question. Trustee Maurice Washington argued that's a major problem. "We hope we finish in the black, but we don't know quite where we stand right now. I think that in itself gives reason for some pause and cautiousness," Washington said. Half the university's budget rides on student enrollment, tuition, and fees. Fall enrollment is down by nearly 400 students right now. The Board voted to leave tuition alone and vowed to balance its budget through cuts.
Board Chairman Corbitt says he's skeptical of the plan.
"I'm skeptical of any university can move forward without tuition increases," Corbitt said. "If that's the will of the board, we'll do it."
The Board has 5 weeks to find the cuts to make up the deficit. The Board will schedule more budget meetings in the next couple of weeks.
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